The same reason so many Cowboys fans can’t seem to stand Jerry Jones is the same reason we love the guy – he just can’t keep his mouth shut. That in turn gives us and all local media a never-ending stream of material, and when he speaks….oh it is pure gold (if you can decipher what he’s saying that is). Take for example his diatribe to Rich Eisen and Michael Irving on the NFL Network this past weekend during Cowboys Training Camp in Oxnard CA. Eisen asked Jerry about the Cowboys passing on Johnny Manziel in the first round of May’s NFL Draft when he unexpectedly fell to them at #16 (where the Cowboys ultimately picked guard Zach Martin). What could have been a simple and straight forward answer turned into the following:
“Tony Romo could have handled being on the same team as Johnny Manziel, both quarterbacks, he could have handled that in spades,” Jones told Eisen. “I thought, Jerry, make the same kind of decision you made when you bought the Dallas Cowboys. Nobody thought it would work, they were busted, the Cowboys were busted…broke. Nobody thought it would work. Make more of an unconventional decision here, and basically take the risk.”
OK so let’s translate if we may. Jerry had obviously talked himself into taking a risk and going with Johnny Football…Romo would handle the situation with ease…right? He’d be the same Ol’ Wildcatter that gambled on oil wells and the purchase of the Cowboys, and he would strike (black) gold once again in doing so. Got it. But then he continued……
“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close. I looked over to my son, Stephen, our chief executive officer, and I said ‘I took the right pick’…. They talk about following your board. I’m criticized, he doesn’t listen to his scouts, he doesn’t listen to his coaches, well he was the top player by three players on our board at the time we were sitting there looking at it.
Now this is where Jerry-speak can get a tad confusing. Is he still talking about Manziel, who by most draft board accounts around the league was ranked a full 10 spots or so ahead of Martin, or is talking about Martin now? Hmmmmm. Well let’s continue…
“The question was could we make it work with Tony Romo during the period of time that we are going to have Tony? And by the way my expectations are that Tony will be our quarterback several years to come as we move along, but Manziel is special. I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League. And it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably for the rest of my career think about.”
OK so now he’s saying they couldn’t make it work with both Romo and Manziel? Didn’t he just say Romo could “handle it in spades?” Perhaps he was referring to making it work financially. After all we can’t forget about the six-year, $108 million contract extension with $55 million in guarantees and a $25 million signing bonus Jerry handed a then 32-year-old Romo in 2013. Not bad pay for an aging player with only one playoff victory in his career and coming off back surgery (now two surgeries), but definitely a consideration when looking to sign a second potentially hi-end signal caller I suppose.
If you can actually wade through all that (and I know that isn’t easy to do), what I believe he is saying that he was oh so very close to picking Johnny Football, but he had to take into consideration that they have Romo under a huge guaranteed contract and thus all his eggs are in that basket (at least that’s my best guess).
But wait, Jerry is never that easy to follow. If you go back to post draft hours when NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport talked with sources inside the Cowboys draft room, he was told that Jones did not lobby hard to draft Manziel with the team’s selection – period. And if you go back a few weeks even earlier, Jerry had this to say when asked about potentially drafting Manziel…
“I’m not that gunned up over what a rookie quarterback can do for us this year. That takes time. This isn’t rebuilding time.”
P.T. Barnum had nothing on Jerry when it comes to carnival barking. It’s all about getting eyeballs to look at you then dollars will follow, and that’s what Jerry does better than anyone. But I also admit that it might be a little disturbing if you’re a Cowboys die-hard to think that he doesn’t believe this team needs to rebuild….but I digress. So could this latest interview just be Jerry drumming up interest and media attention when he feels no one is looking at him and his team? I wouldn’t bet against it. The lights went on and Jerry did too.
The Cowboys constructed as they are with this one man running everything is an absolute dream for the media. Any other team, in the NFL or in any other sport, would have censored their GM (or canned him) years ago for making comments like Jerry does on a regular basis (not to mention just one playoff win in 17 years), but Jerry is the top dog so it ain’t gonna happen. At least not until Stephen and Jerry Jr. pull a “Sterling” and get a couple of shrinks to testify that the old man has lost it. So say what you want about Jerry, he has people (including me) talking about his Cowboys, when realistically they look to be another 8-8 team at best again this year, and the start of the regular season is still over 6 weeks away. As always Jerry we thank you. You give us fodder when the Rangers are bottoming out and the Stars and Mavs are still but a distant thought. And that’s why we love the guy.